The Hardest Answer: First Questionbycawastedyouth©
The one joy Lauren had every week to unwind, was her trip to the library on Saturday. The first weekend, she dumped her papers from work unceremoniously on the floor and then went to the pile of books she had by her bed and began to stuff the nearly twenty books into her briefcase. With a quick reluctant look at her checkbook, she knew she would also have to make one extra stop as the memo from her principal glared at her from her desk; a thinly disguised reminder that she was a role model for the students on campus. Which was his indirect way of telling her that she needed to wear a helmet to work if she were going to continue to bike to work. Another week before a paycheck, but this was a part of conforming and being a member of influence over children.
Lauren hopped on her bike and peddled to the nearest bike store, dodging a few soccer moms who insisted on the right of way. Coming out of the store, she had a cardboard box protecting her helmet, sixty less dollars, and a dilemma of how to balance everything until she emptied her briefcase three blocks up. Hesitantly, Lauren knew she really didn't need the box that protected the helmet.
With a raw sense of irony, Lauren smirked at the box. After all, the helmet was supposed to be protecting her head. Once the box had been properly recycled, the helmet roughly fitted so to give Lauren the illusion of a correct fit, Lauren was off to the library with an anticipatory sense of urgency.
Lauren's earliest memories were of looking at books. It didn't matter what they were: books with pictures, mechanics magazines left by her older brothers, the cookbooks her mother had on a shelf and never opened, and books without pictures. When she discovered to herself she could read, she proudly toddled over to her parents and showed them. They patted her on her head and sent her out to play.
Since she had older siblings who needed to use the library, she begged to go with them. However, much like older siblings, they did not want to bring Lauren around anywhere they went and especially somewhere that they did not want to be in the first place.
Perseverance paid off for Lauren's tender years. She eventually found her way into the building that housed the dusty tomes and numerous senior citizens glaring at rowdy teenagers. Nothing was off limits to Lauren's mind as a child. She grew quickly bored with the novels written for children: the brightly colored pictures and the simplified vocabulary held limited appeal to her. By the time she was twelve, Lauren began cutting her teeth on Charles Dickens, both Bronte sisters, and attempted Tolstoy. Her mind was the one trapping that no one could take from her and they certainly could not enter it ever. Learning through reading was Lauren's protection from the teeming noise of a crowded house with too many children and the harsh realization that nothing in her life was likely to be as magical as some of the fantasy novels she loved.
The library was her refuge, and taught her about the world beyond her parent's narrowed vision for their children. Any questions about behavior or social norms, she would research in the library until she was satisfied. It helped avoid asking embarrassing questions from people she felt ill at ease with. Even more important, the library, unlike her childhood home, was nearly silent. She did not have to worry about any younger brother or sister barreling in on her or older brother or sisters teasing her in front of their friends.
Lauren's tastes had only grown as she did. Historical fiction, science fiction, and under a rather sheepish admission, romance novels were among her current favorites. Though the library's selection was small, Lauren found her favorite writer, Emily Dickenson, well represented.
Lauren wandered around at the library having made her selections, and came across the magazine rack. She briefly considered picking up one of the news magazines, but something totally caught her eye that she had never considered before: National News for the Gay and Lesbian Community.
Lauren put down her belongings and new helmet and looked around before hesitantly grabbing the magazine and wandering back into a quiet corner as inconspicuously as possible with everything she was carrying.
Though the cover was a scantily clad man, assumingly gay, she somehow felt odd picking up such a magazine.
'It's like I picked up a Playboy.' She would reflect later. She opened the magazine, sliding glances around and found an article about lesbians.
A whole set of vocabulary marched at her. Femme. Butch. Pride.
Lauren shuddered not really understanding all of what she found. She also found that the magazine was heavily slanted in favor of the gay community instead of the balance that she would have liked. She turned another page, unable to put this down, trying to find her answer. Trying to understand why she was suddenly interested in this lifestyle.
'I'm a lesbian; I came out after I left my husband.' The memory haunted Lauren and she wanted to place a reason why. She shrugged her shoulder and folded the magazine up and gathered her things to leave the library.
'It's like doing research.' She reasoned. 'I don't know anything about lesbian; I want to know more.' It was growing late, and Lauren hadn't brought her light for her bike, so she quickly checked out her things hoping no one saw her read the gay magazine.
Lauren biked through the park on her way home. She passed by a teen couple who would probably not last the week, holding hands, experimenting with kissing. She suppressed her 'teacher' mind to keep from yelling at the kids. It was Saturday; she was not enforcing any rules on anyone if she could help it. But in her heart, there was a moment of jealousy.
'What would it be like to be touched by someone else?' She wondered passing a teen couple holding hands, shyly looking at the other and then the guy stole a rather deep kiss from his girlfriend.
It struck her as an odd thought that needed clarification. Certainly she had been 'touched': hugs, pats on the back, hand shakes. But none with a romantic intent. She hadn't ever kissed anyone on the lips.
'Maybe I was born in the wrong decade.' She mused some more at a stoplight. 'I just need an arranged marriage, to be told to do my 'duty' in the marriage bed and have done with all of this nonsense.'
What her mind said did not come close to comforting her heart. It was something she knew she had to experience. 'Oh God, I'd love to experience it.' The sob of desire rose in her chest, but she squashed it down as far as she dared. It wouldn't matter if she wanted this. She had no one interested in sharing her limited experience. She was getting too old to be so inexperienced and admitting that she lacked all of the 'knowledge' of intimacy. Romance books only cover so much. She mused stopping in front of her apartment and dragging her bike the stairs to her apartment.
Lauren had lately been acknowledging the ache in her chest that she recognized as this desire to 'grow up'. The term encompassed relationships. She was tired of being so immature; it wasn't like she wasn't making an effort on her part to change. There were huge steps being made; at least in her opinion.